Ikere-Ekiti residents protest Fayose’s plan to pull down sacred tree

Ikere-Ekiti residents protest Fayose’s plan to pull down sacred tree

Tension has gripped people of Ikere-Ekiti, in Ekiti State, over Governor Ayo Fayose’s order that a sacred tree located in a historical site in the community be uprooted to pave way for a road dualization project.

An attempt on Monday by government agents and the contractor handling the project to remove the tree was thwarted by the youths and traditionalists.

The youths went on rampage, held up traffic and lit bonfires at Odo-Oja area of the town. Fayose reportedly led armed policemen and operatives of the state security outfit, “Operation Flush” in the heat of the crisis.

The indigenes claim that the historical site known locally as the “Ereja” was the source of Ikere and was the place where the town was established and and removing the tree was a bad omen. They claimed it is also the location where the annual Olosunta Festival is celebrated.

The residents had placed sacrifices made with a goat and pigeon and other fetish objects at the site while palm fronds were also tied around the shrine.

Angry residents had since formed a human shield round the shrine in a bid to frustrate any plan to demolish the site and uproot the sacred tree.

Addressing reporters at his palace on Tuesday, the Olukere of Ikere, Oba Ganiyu Ayodele Obasoyin, said, “cutting down the sacred tree and demolishing the Ereja was akin to passing a death sentence on him (Olukere).”

The Olukere was joined at his palace by the Alare of Are-Ikere, Oba Oguntuase Atitebi and the Elejoka of Ikuomoba-Ikere, Chief Benjamin Owolade both of whom claimed that he (Olukere) is the head of the community.

The monarch said: “Yesterday (Monday), the governor led the Police to Ikere that the shrine be bulldozed; it is when a king dies that the branches of the tree are cut off and I went to meet the governor that he should not pass a death sentence on me.

“I want to say that Fayose wants to kill me; by ordering that the tree which represents my life be uprooted and the people resisted him.
My subjects said they don’t want a tenant that will be making life difficult for the owner of the land because I am the owner of Ikere.

“The Ereja is where Ikere people meet once in every year, if that tree is removed, it means they have killed the Olukere. The people came out yesterday (Monday) that they don’t want their king to be killed.

“This is the tradition here, the tree branches are cut if the Oba dies. In every community, we have traditional heritage and cultural heritage and nobody can kill our cultural heritage.

“The only way forward is that government should see reason with the people of Ikere and respect the people’s cultural heritage. If there
is no town, you cannot be governor over people.

“They have that type of tree in Afao-Ikere, it was preserved for them and was not cut for road project. The expatriate contractor said the sacred tree at Ereja does not hinder the construction work.”

The Olukere who quoted from the 1933 Intelligence Report said his throne was the first in Ikere and should be accorded due honour, respect and recognition by the state government.

He added that the 16 most senior monarchs in the State Council of Obas visited his palace in February on a fact-finding visit to historical monuments and artefacts which confirmed his kingship.

Nigerian Online Newspaper=


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